News Across South Dakota-AM Edition

Eric Robert executed last night
  • A man convicted of a murder that happened less than two years ago…is dead following South Dakota’s first execution in five years.   Last fall, prison inmate Eric Robert was found guilty of killing a corrections officer at the state penitentiary in April of 2011.  Monday night, prison staff injected pentobarbital into Robert’s body to kill him.  Michael Winder with the South Dakota Department of Corrections says the lethal injection began at 10:01 PM…. [audio:|titles=101612-DeathPenalty-Readerbite]State officials, members of the victim’s family and Robert’s attorney witnessed the execution. Robert could have fought his conviction and sentence but waived those appeals.  His partner in the failed escape attempt and killing… sits on death row. Rodney Berget  also admitted to beating the corrections officer. Berget is now appealing his death sentence.  Meanwhile only four inmates sit on South Dakota’s death row now that convicted murderer Eric Robert is dead after Monday night’s lethal injection. All inmates who face the death penalty get an opportunity to speak last words.   At one minute after 10 o-clock Monday night in the execution chamber, South Dakota State Penitentiary Warden Doug Weber asked Eric Robert if he had any last words.  Robert replied, “In the name of justice and liberty and mercy, I authorize and forgive Warden Douglas Weber to execute me for my crimes. It is done.”  Media witness John Hult says Robert emphasized the latter sentence.[audio:|titles=101612-HultDone-Bite]  The convicted killer’s Attorney Mark Kadi witnessed his client’s death. He says Eric Robert’s last words communicated that he forgave the man who executed him.[audio:|titles=101612-KadiForgive-Bite] Kadi says this last gesture was part of his process of coming to grips with his actions and accepting his death.


Guard’s widow says public ‘safer’ after execution

  • SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – The wife of slain prison guard Ronald “R.J.” Johnson says the death of his killer won’t bring her husband back, but she hopes Eric Robert’s execution will make the public in general a “little bit safer.”  Lynette Johnson’s voice cracked and her mouth pursed as she struggled to maintain her composure while speaking to media members after 50-year-old Robert was put to death Monday night.  Lynette Johnson says her husband’s death in April 2011 highlights safety concerns for correctional officers throughout the state. The penitentiary made more than a dozen procedural changes soon after Johnson’s killing. Lynette Johnson was flanked by her children and their spouses. She pumped her fist as she emotionally declared that “we stand proud for Ron.”


Ex-presidential nominee George McGovern in hospice

  • SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – Former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern has moved into hospice care near his home in South Dakota.  His daughter told The Associated Press on Monday that the longtime South Dakota senator is “coming to the end of his life.” Ann McGovern declined to elaborate, but noted her 90-year-old father’s recent health problems.  She says he’s moved in the Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls.  George McGovern lost to President Richard Nixon in a historic landslide in 1972. Most of his work in recent years has focused on world hunger.  Last October, he was treated for exhaustion after a lecture tour. Two months later, he fell and hit his head just before a scheduled interview for a C-SPAN program about failed presidential candidates who’ve had a lasting impact on American politics.


SD harvest advances with good weather

  • SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota’s row crop harvest advanced substantially again last week, with nearly all the soybeans harvested.  The U.S. Agriculture Department says in its weekly crop and weather report that 98 percent of the soybean crop was harvested, up from last year’s pace and well ahead of the five-year average.  The harvest of corn for grain was about 90 percent complete at week’s end, up from 78 percent a week earlier and far outpacing the five-year average of 22 percent.  Cattle conditions were rated at 65 percent good to excellent, 30 percent fair and 5 percent poor.  Very little precipitation fell statewide.


SD woman charged with allegedly driving into house

  •  RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) – A South Dakota woman has been arrested for driving while intoxicated after allegedly driving off the street and hitting a parked boat and a house in Rapid City. Rapid City Police say 31-year-old Alexis Cepak of Rapid City is also charged with aggravated eluding, resisting arrest, ingesting and failure to report an accident.  Authorities say witnesses reported that after the Sunday afternoon crash into the boat and house, the driver of the black pickup drove away and parked at an elementary school. When an officer approached the vehicle, the driver took off again but was eventually arrested after driving through a chain-link fence and hitting a parked vehicle.  Cepak was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

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